Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Make This Difference In 2021

I feel odd trying to write an inspirational message, using the television serial killer Dexter as an example.  But here goes.  First, to be fair, Dexter’s status as a serial killer is complicated in that he is really a good guy.  One of his major flaws (besides the ease of killing criminals released by the judicial system often on technicalities), is he is emotionally barren, for at least half of the series, before his “feelings” begin to mature.  I am trying to be respectful in not “spoiling” anything.

You get it though, Dexter does not show, or pretty much, have any emotions, or feelings.  His sister Deb, with a mouth more colorful than a truckdriver or sailor (or whatever metaphor you want to use), has emotions, but has not control of them, often leading her to make decisions that involve regret.  She often tells Dexter she loves him, but he is unable to respond in kind to his sister.  This is not the only time that Dexter has been in this position, through no fault of his own.  It is just who he is.

Anyway, as the series draws to a conclusion, Dexter is moving away, far, far, away.  Deb’s only request, a hug before he leaves, something I do not recall seeing in any of the episodes.  I will leave it there.

There are no second chances.  I wrote just a couple of days ago about my father’s situation with my stepmother, an argument, never being able to be resolved.

That had not been the first time, that I had experienced that guilt, of a lost opportunity.  Growing up, though different circumstances, I did not deal with emotions well either, in fact, not at all.  But early in my adulthood, when my grandmother had been diagnosed with cancer, and the mere thought of losing her, I found out, that I did have feelings, and they mattered.  And for the first time, I began to show my emotions.

On a daily basis, I made sure that I told my grandmother that I loved her.  When I visited her, I always gave her a hug.  Except for one time, and it was the last time that I saw her alive.

She was about to begin her second fight against cancer, beginning chemo the Monday after the weekend.  I stopped by to visit with her Saturday morning as I had a full day planned on Sunday with my church’s youth group that I ran.  I had discovered that she had cut her her short, to prepare for the hair loss that would accompany her chemotherapy.  But then I noticed something odd.  Her booklets on her chemo information had still not been touched.  I just attributed that to my grandmother’s nature of just accepting things, and doing what she had to.  That is how she rolled.

As I sat across from her in her living room, she had a distant look on her face.  There was a lot on her mind, clearly with the chemo beginning in just days.  I would soon find out, she had a lot more on her mind than she let on.  I asked her what was wrong.  She just responded that she “just want to get this over with.”  She definitely was not her normal “brave” self with me.

When I went to leave, she did not get up from the couch as I approached the door.  I told her, “ok grandma, I am going to get going.  I will give you a call tomorrow, then come see you on Monday.”  My hopes of thinking she would take that as her cue to come over and hug me goodbye, nope.

The next day, she had passed away.  The one time I did not hug my grandmother or tell her I loved her, because I was distracted by her “distance” and distraction, is how we parted.

You see the pattern here.  Three examples, all three, “coulda, woulda, shoulda.”

My daughters never got to meet my grandmother.  They never knew what happened to my stepmother and the impact it had on my Dad.  What I do not know, is if among all the other stuff they have watched, if they ever watched Dexter.

But one thing is for sure, from the moment they were placed in my arms, they have always been told “I love you” by me.  They get as many hugs as I can give them.  There is no “given” that just because I am their father, they have to love me or that I love them.  No, for the first time in my life, my daughters made me feel that way, and I made, no, make sure that they know every day how much I love them.  There will be no regrets with not having said the most important words to my daughters.

We never know when the inevitable is going to happen.  And 2020 has been extremely cruel with Covid19 devastating so many families permanently.  And now, faced with recommendations, proven to be at least helpful in reducing risks, we are asked to make sacrifices, which could very well be the last time, we see a loved one or friend.  Nobody gets that more than me.

Whether you believe in the severity of Covid19 or not, and whether you have been personally affected by Covid19 or not, does not change the fact, that you only get one last chance with someone, and we do not know when that moment will be.  But Covid19 has made a huge impact on hundreds of thousands of lives, permanently.

2020 has been extremely cruel, and likely filled with a lot of regret, of things left unsaid.  Regardless of what you believe about Covid19, or any other situation that at one moment can change your life forever, you can make one huge difference in 2021, every day.

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